26 July, 2010

Clarifying Jesus' teaching on the law and the misconceptions of the teaching of the Church

(geessewereabove) “The Catholic church will not even admit when it was made!”

(Cristoiglesia) Sure we do, it was founded by the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.

(Geessewereabove) “Rabi Jesus says in Matthew 5:17-20 That he is not here to start a new religuen; but to fix the Jewish one.”

(Cristoiglesia) I agree that Christianity is perfected Judaism as it was perfected by Christ. The coming of Christ ended such practices as circumcision and the animal sacrifices. However, even though these ceremonies were to cease the foundational morality that these things represented remained the same but representing greater perfection. Jesus fulfilled the law by representing all the figures and prophecies and correcting that which was imperfect. Jesus spoke as He did in verse 17 to prepare the Jews for the new instructions to come. The Jews of the time were not very concerned about fulfilling the law but at the same time they had anxiety and jealousy of departing from the letter of the law and especially if the change perfected morality.

Jesus fulfilled the law by obedience to the rites so as to be innocent of sin. Not only did observe and fulfill the law but also by His actions He allows us to fulfill it as well. Man was too weak to fulfill the law necessitating Christ to justify humanity and thus accomplishing the will of the law. As St. John Chrysostom said, “He fulfilled the old law to a more strict and powerful morality.”

In verse 18 Jesus says “Amen” to emphasize the importance of the truth He is about to share saying the following:

Every jot or tittle meaning the smallest moral precept and every type and figure of the former law shall be fulfilled by His coming.

In verse 19 Jesus speaks of the least of the kingdom of heaven which is one that is not in heaven at all reserving heaven for those who are sanctified and of great virtue. He warns not to follow the Scribes and the Pharisees who instruct others but do not follow or practice what they teach in the law even neglecting the spirit of the law. They do not teach to please and honor God but to build up their own pride.

Verse 20 speaks of the Scribes being the doctors of the Mosaic law and the Pharisees being certain men who profess a exacting observance of the law and were honored by the people. Jesus promises to show us the level of perfection of our calling. When Jesus says “your justice” He is speaking of the justice He gives us so that we are truly just and have inherent justice by observing the commandments of God. Without this gift there is no justice of works and one cannot be saved. We must conclude that salvation, justice and justification is not the result of faith alone or by imputation of Christ’s justice.

(geessewereabove) “In Acts The Christians met in the Synagogs, in the Evenings. While those that do not believe Jesus is the Christ still meet in the mornings.”

(Cristoiglesia) The Christians did continue meeting in the synagogues for a short while.

(geessewereabove) “The Catholic church was started by 29 men in 305/6 A.D., that did not like all the effort/work it took/takes to obey all we are taught. Again in Matt. 5:17-20 we are required to remember all 613 of the commandments in the Old Testimant, even if we do not have to obey them all, like eating koser. So they started their new one.”

(Cristoiglesia) No, the Catholic Church was founded by Jesus and the disciples at Pentecost in 33AD. This is clearly taught in the book of Acts and is supported by historical and patristic evidence. The Bible tells us it was founded by Jesus being the cornerstone and the high priest and the disciples the 12 foundation stones with St. Peter as the prime minister fulfilling the figure in the prophecy of Isaiah. They as all Catholic Christians were faithful to the teaching of Jesus.

(geessewereabove) “A Catholic friend of mine bought herself a new Catholic Bible in 2001. It had it's nine Commandments up with a slate style background, with the tenth split into two commandments! Second removed!”

(Cristoiglesia) There are Ten Commandments and that is why they are called the Decalogue. In the original Hebrew there were no numbers or even punctuation. Different translators place the punctuation and numbers in different places but the fact is that in all translations there are ten commandments. No commandments have been removed in any translation I have seen and certainly not in any Catholic approved translation.

(geessewereabove) “The Catholic church tells its people to pray to Jesus (son of God), Mary, anyone they have named as a saint, and even dead parents. Where we are all required to pray ONLY to God. that is why it keeps getting smaller and smaller. More and more people do read the Bible, see truth they are not being taught.”

(Cristoiglesia) Yes, the Church teaches all Catholic Christians that it is important to pray to God for ourselves and for others. It is by praying for others that we fulfill the commandment of our Lord to love one another. The Church also teaches the truth from Scriptures that we do not cease to be a part of His Church upon our physical death but that we are instantly with God in heaven following the Scriptures that says that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord for those In Christ. As part of that communion of saints their ministry is no different than ours and that is to show our love by praying for one another. We ask the righteous in heaven to pray for us as the Bible instructs saying that the prayers of the righteous are of great benefit. When we ask the saints in heaven to pray for us we are fulfilling Christ’s commandment. No where in all of Scriptures does it instruct us not to pray for others or for others not to pray for us as you claim. Please research the communion of saints to get a better understanding of the Christian prayer life. Since we teach the fullness of truth the Church continues to grow as it has for 2000 years as the Holy Spirit draws more and more of His home to His Church. I am a former Protestant for 50 years and it is the Bible that brought me home to the fullness of truth. To be deep in Scriptures is to become a Catholic Christian.

(geessewereabove) In Matthew 23 :8-10, we are required by Jesus, never to have a title before ones name like Rabi. That "Father" is to used ONLY FOR GOD; no humans to be called that. And Teacher is for Jesus. I went to a Catholic priest on this and he claimed "All catholic priests are above Jesus and equal to God. So that dose not include us." So self centered!”

(Cristoiglesia) No Catholic priest ever told you that priests are above Jesus and equal to God. The teaching of the Church is just the opposite. The priests are a servant class. The Pope is the servant of the servants of God and holds the lowest position of all humanity. Above him is the Bishops who are the successors of the apostles, then the priests, deacons and the laity with Jesus being the high priest, respectfully.

You have not come to a proper understanding of Matthew 23:8-10 perhaps because your prejudice against Christ’s Church has prevented you from being taught.

From the early Church we find that clergy were addressed as father. There are those with little knowledge of history or hermeneutical discipline such as understanding Scriptures within context, who believe that the Bible prohibits one from calling a priest father. The words they rely on come directly from Christ:

(Mat 23:9 DRB) And call none your father upon earth; for one is your father, who is in heaven.

Keeping the verse in context let us look at the verse preceding this verse:

(Mat 23:8 DRB) But be not you called Rabbi. For one is your master: and all you are brethren.

Rabbi means teacher and the Latin word for teacher is doctor so anyone using these terms as well are violating the literal interpretation of the text.

Let us look at the verse after verse 9:

(Mat 23:10 DRB) Neither be ye called masters: for one is your master, Christ.

There is no way that the interpretation could be correct if one reads and understands the Matthew passage in context. He is clearly teaching that one should not look to any human authority as our teacher, father, master, doctor or other titles of respect but instead give to God those things that are reserved for Him. Do you also refuse to call people doctor, teacher, professor, mister, or master? All of these are forbidden as well if we are to accept a literal understanding.

Context also requires that we investigate what the other Scriptures say as well as the understanding of these words by those who followed Christ. There are many instances where the writers of the New Testament contradict a literal understanding of not calling a man father, teacher or master. Consider the following verses:

(Act 5:34 DRB) But one in the council rising up, a Pharisee, named Gamaliel, a doctor of the law, respected by all the people, commanded the men to be put forth a little while.

(Col 4:1 DRB) Masters, do to your servants that which is just and equal: knowing that you also have a master in heaven.

(2Ti 1:11 DRB) Wherein I am appointed a preacher and an apostle and teacher of the Gentiles.

Let us examine the statements of St. Stephen to see if he understood Christ to be speaking literally….In is soliloquy (Acts Chapter 7) before the Sanhedrin before his stoning to martyrdom he used the term father in referring to Abraham Isaac and Jacob as fathers and also to his Israelite ancestors as fathers.

St. John the beloved disciple also did not understand Christ to be teaching literally as we can see in the following verses:

(1Jn 2:13 DRB) I write unto you, fathers, because you have known him who is from the beginning. I write unto you, young men, because you have overcome the wicked one.

(1Jn 2:14 DRB) I write unto you, babes, because you have known the Father. I write unto you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abideth in you, and you have overcome the wicked one.

(1Jn 2:15 DRB) Love not the world, nor the things which are in the world. If any man love the world, the charity of the Father is not in him.

(1Jn 2:16 DRB) For all that is in the world is the concupiscence of the flesh and the concupiscence of the eyes and the pride of life, which is not of the Father but is of the world.

St. Paul also had a different understanding of Christ’s words than the literalists:

(1Co 4:14 DRB) I write not these things to confound you: but I admonish you as my dearest children.

(1Co 4:15 DRB) For if you have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet not many fathers. For in Christ Jesus, by the gospel, I have begotten you.

(1Co 4:16 DRB) Wherefore, I beseech you, be ye followers of me as I also am of Christ.

St. Paul was speaking of the fact that he is called to shepherd the flock as are all priests. We not only give birth to the Christian through Baptism but also nourish the faithful with the Holy Eucharist and God’s Word. We care for them and bind their spiritual wounds through the delivery of the Sacraments. It is no wonder that we are called father as we care for our Church family as a father cares for his own family.
I am very pleased to help you with your misconceptions so that you will not continue to break one of God’s commandments not to bear false witness. As you have already stated the laws of God are of great importance and are worthy of our obedience.

In Christ
Fr. Joseph

18 July, 2010

The Baptism of Jesus

Jesus Himself tells us that His Baptism was necessary to fulfill all justice. Clearly the purpose of His Baptism was that He has an obligation to do first what will be required of others. As St. Ambrose said, that we should not refuse the grace delivered by Baptism as Jesus did not refuse penance of mankind.

Surely our sins are forgiven by Baptism but this is the beginning of our sanctification preparing the flesh and the spirit to receive the ongoing grace of our Lord. The flesh remains after Baptism to be vulnerable to the seduction and temptation of the flesh. We are instead prepared and strengthened with the assurance of grace to withstand the enemies of God who try to separate us from the familial relationship we have entered with Christ and His Church. We continue in grace to fight for our faith as we approach our salvation with fear and trembling.

When Jesus was Baptized a miracle occurred that blessed all of humanity. The heavens were opened and joined with the earth in preparation for the Church being one militant, suffering and triumphant. under the one shepherd Jesus. According to St. John Chrysostom, we of His Church are exalted into the company of the angels.

At the Baptism of Jesus we see the Holy Spirit descending as a dove for He could not be seen by men in His glorious divinity. The dove expressed the simplicity of character given at Baptism (Mat 10:16-23). This was , of course prefigured by the olive branch carried back to the Ark by the dove which was a figure of the Church which like the Ark protects mankind from the deluge of sin from the world.

Why was Jesus an adult when He was Baptized and then the Church teaches Baptism to be done as soon as possible one might ask.....Jesus was brought into the family of man as one who was not stained by sin in any way due to God's preparation for His birth with the miraculous conception keeping Him from even having contact with the original sin of man. Because of this there was no urgency or danger necessitating Jesus to be baptized sooner. However, humanity which is born in corruption will be judged when we pass out of this world and without the garment of incorruption given by Baptism, the Bible tells us that our salvation is in great doubt.

God bless!

In Christ
Fr. Joseph